No one will argue that this has been an unusually cold winter. We have certainly had our share of days where the temperature never deigned to approach zero. But it does have its compensations. For the first time in five years the sea caves in the Apostle Islands are accessible by foot, thanks to the firm ice on Lake Superior. When stunning photos of the ice formations began to circulate, we became entranced and pledged to go.
Of course, it took over a week for the weather to cooperate, but today’s forecast looked promising, so we made plans with friends to make the trip together. As it turns out, we nailed the timing. Sunshine, clear blue skies, warming temperatures and little wind made for a perfect day for our hike out to the caves and viewing the ice.
There was no need for snowshoes or ski poles, nor any possibility of getting lost, as the trail was well trampled by many before us. We followed the edge of the lake for about a mile, with the scenery improving with each step. Layers of rock, topped with trees high above our heads became increasingly impressive, as did the spiky icicles that flowed down the exposed edges.
Fortunately, we chose to visit fairly early in the day, as even though it was mid-week, a large number of people were making their way out to the caves by the time we were on our return trip. We were pleased to be there when there were still relatively few others there.
Caves abounded in the rocky coastline, ranging from small openings in the ice to huge caverns. Inside, the ice formed fascinating patterns, hanging from the ceiling like frosty stalactite.
Rich crawled into several openings, and was rewarded with some great photos. But the dripping, groaning and thumping of the ice was too spooky for my tastes, so after a few such sojourns I made do with searching out unique angles – outside.
It was a great day for lingering. For gawking and feeling awed by the beauty of it all. For feeling so fortunate to be able to see it for ourselves. And for impeccable timing. No sooner did we reach the car than the skies clouded over and the wind picked up. The day was no longer so perfect. But by then we were off in search of lunch. Lucky us.